The contrast between the Google and Apple is certainly a broad subject. One is a company that makes its money serving targeted ads to consumers and the other is a software developer and hardware manufacturer. One company blew up because of a nifty MP3 player and the other makes hundreds of billions each year producing high quality search results. In many ways these two companies have very little in common and yet they find each other competing a little more directly every day.
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Apple’s recent abuses of the US court and patent systems are a pretty obvious symptom of this clash between two tech giants. Steve Jobs literally ranted and raved that he would destroy Android even if he had to ruin Apple to do it. (It’s a shame he didn’t’ live to see Android’s current 75% market share and iOS’s stagnation) The question is: which of these two companies is best equipped to lead the tech world into the next era? There is no doubt that Apple was ahead of the game when they released the iPhone in 2007, and that the iPhone’s release coincided with an explosion of interest in smart phones. But can Apple do the same thing again?
Apple’s strategy with the mp3 player, the smartphone and then the tablet has been to let other companies refine a technology, prove the market and educate customers and then to swoop in, make a dumbed down version of that product and pretend to have invented the technology that it uses. Certainly the ethics and merit of this type of strategy can be debated but the results cannot. Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world despite it’s recent decline in stock prices. Will this strategy work again now that Google has entered the fray?
No one is playing catchup to Apple anymore. The iPhone has been bested in every meaningful category and as Apple struggles to keep up with Samsung in terms of hardware and Android as far as software is concerned, it is obvious that they heyday of the iPhone has come to an end. So what is next?
Is wearable technology the next tech goldmine? It is too soon to tell for sure but what we do know is that Google is already hard at work developing Glass and probably a smart watch and that Apple is almost certainly working on similar products. Several interesting developments will take place over the next 12-14 months. First of all we will find out just how far behind Google Apple really is. If Apple shocks the world with a smart watch that goes on sale before the end of the year they will still be standing on the shoulders of products like the Pebble, but they will at least be the first major manufacturer to bring this type of product to market.
On the other hand if a Google smartwatch goes on sale this year in addition to a new smartphone and a new tablet we may really start to see panic over in Cupertino. Google still has several issues to work out as the company jumps into the hardware game with both feet. But Google’s invaluable services, almost limitless funding, design savvy, and ability to innovate makes it the company to bet on to lead the tech industry into the next era of innovation.